From rolling green countryside and craggy mountains to mystical Celtic ruins, crumbling castles, to rowdy beer bars and shanty pubs, the Emerald Isle has some…
Looking for things to do on summer break? Make your family vacation educational and fun by visiting one or more of these top historical places in America. The arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 began the colonization of America and America declared its independence from England on July 4, 1776. Some of these places may not even be on your radar, but should definitely be considered. You can find cheap hotels or cheap bed and breakfast in many of these historic cities. It may be one of the best family vacations on a budget you will ever take.
1. St. Augustine, Florida
Founded by the Spanish in 1565 St. Augustine is the oldest European-founded city in the United States (continuously inhabited) and its historical charm clearly highlights this proud fact. Entire streets are lined by buildings constructed in the 17th and 18th century as well as the historical monuments, the large Spanish forts of Castillo de San Marcos, in the city, and Fort Matanzas, a few miles down the coast.The city also claims to have the oldest house in the United States- The Gonzalez- Alvarez house, now a private museum that is open to the public. While it is debatable about whether it is the oldest house in America, it is definitely the oldest structure in St. Augustine. The Historic District in St. Augustine is the heart of the city. This is where guests will find a majority of the city’s restaurants, shopping, hotels, and attractions.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston traces its beginnings to 1630 when Puritan colonists from England. Old cemeteries, such as the Old Granary and Copps Hill Burial Grounds, are seen from busy sidewalks and beautiful colonial architecture is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers, such as the Old State House which dates to 1713 and is considered the oldest public building in the city. The best way to experience Boston’s history is to follow the Freedom Trail which is free and well marked along the city’s sidewalks. The Trail starts near the State House and winds its way through the North End and across the Charles River to the Bunker Hill Battlefield monument. Faneuil Hall Marketplace is a popular shopping center with many stores & restaurants comprising 3 historic market buildings & a promenade. The edifice was home to merchants, fishermen, and meat and produce sellers, and provided a platform for the country’s most famous orators. Boston Harbor is the site of the infamous Boston Tea Party. Boston Harbor boat tours and whale watching tours are great ideas for things to do with kids.
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The official founding of the city as we know it today began with William Penn’s 1682 ambitious grid-lay out that still marks the modern foundation of the city’s planning. However, a little know fact is that there were colonists who inhabited parts of what is today’s Philadelphia as early as 1637 with the arrival of the Swedes. Today’s best known reminder of this early period is manifested in the still extant Gloria Dei (Old Swedes) Church founded in 1677. It remains the oldest church in the state of Pennsylvania. The city’s history needs no special introduction. Its central location midway between north and south made it an early capital of the United States from 1790-1800. Before this it was the major meeting place of the various Continental Congresses and it was in Philadelphia where the greatest of American documents were penned and put into law: the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. The number of historical buildings in Philadelphia is astonishing and it even eclipses Boston in this regard. Vintage historic buildings from the colonial period, for instance, are located in so many areas of the city – in places that were established as separate towns and villages before they were merged with the growing urban metropolitan area. Germantown, Chestnut Hill, and Manayunk, for instance, all have blocks of houses and buildings that are well-preserved. The Georgian style Independence Hall (1732-1753), which once served as the capitol on the United States, is the centerpiece of the city’s old quarter and a block or two away are some classic Greek Revival buildings that are now preserved as part of the Independence National Historical Park. Philadelphia is a great place to snag flight deals to as well as booking hotels on the cheap or stay at a historic inn.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
Surprisingly most of the famous historic architecture you seen in this unique city is of Spanish pedigree despite its more common association with the French. New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company but was ceded to Spain in 1763. The buildings from the French Quarter, or Vieux Carre, were built during the Spanish occupation. The French Quarter is not to be missed for its unusual architecture and cultural backdrop. The iconic St. Louis Cathedral sits in the middle of the French Quarter in Jackson Square. It is one of many historical places in New Orleans. Cathedral tours are available.
Worth seeing in the area is the Chalmette Battlefield, site of the Battle of New Orleans between the United States and Great Britain. Also not to miss in the city is the Garden District, an incredible collection of historical homes which began around 1832 and a hallmark of the city’s burgeoning prosperity brought about by the commercial traffic along the Mississippi River. The Garden District has arguably the nation’s best and most concentrated collections of antebellum mansions. Book a stay in one of the B&B hotels, garden hotels, or historic inns. NOLA is a great cheap vacation spot for honeymoons.
New Orleans is also ranked as one of the most haunted U.S. cities. Not much, it seems, separates the living from the dead in New Orleans. Because the town is below sea level, tombs sit above ground in the 42 cemeteries within city limits. Ghosts from the War of 1812 still hang around the French Quarter. Want a Haunted Experiences:? Take a nighttime tour of a haunted mansion. Wander through St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and see the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau. The ghost of pirate Jean Lafitte is said to frequent Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar in the French Quarter.
5. San Antonio, Texas
Established in 1718 around the Alamo Mission, the future location of the city was first visited by the Spaniards in 1691. The Spaniards established a mission, known as San Antonio de Valero (the Alamo) here by 1718 because they sought to establish a presence in the region as a bulwark against colonial France. Not coincidentally New Orleans, founded by the French, was established the same year. The most famous of the city’s sights can be seen in a long, well-planned day. The River Walk, Alamo, the Spanish Governor’s Palace, and the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park are the best preserved historical sites in the city and should not be left out of any itinerary.
While our list is not all inclusive of the many great historical places in America to visit, these are our top picks at MySitti. MySitti.com offers flight deals, hotel room bookings, cheap car rentals and more. Find your next family vacation destination, things to do with kids, or travel destinations for couples with us.